Sunday, May 08, 2016

Deer Creek Pond

"The earth has music for those who listen."

― George Santayana

In the middle of a business park on the far west side of Madison, there's a little oasis a block away from my apartment along Deer Creek. I don't know if it has a name, but but I can't recall a time I've been there when it's been anything other than tranquil and quiet. Remarkably, it all begins as a narrow path behind an office building.

Deer Creek meets Pheasant Branch Creek at the confluence pond along Deming Way in Middleton. Until I discover if it has a name, I'll simply refer to to it as Deer Creek Pond. Visiting this spot is a nice break from the creek corridor of Pheasant Branch Conservancy, which is often full of joggers, bicyclists, dogs (mostly on leash), and other sources of distraction from the tranquility of the woods and its critters.

Deer Creek

Though it's a small patch of habitat (~10 acres) compared to Pheasant Branch Conservancy's 500, I've observed an impressive variety of birds here over the years: hawks, owls, waterfowl, a variety of warblers, sparrows and other songbirds, even a Northern Shrike a few years back. I don't visit the spot nearly as often as I probably should, especially during spring and fall migration.

White-crowned Sparrow

I spent an evening there a few days ago and found a small flock of White-crowned Sparrows singing and foraging along a line of shrubbery. They were a little curious about me, but went about their business after I sat down in the grass about 30 feet away. While photographing the sparrows, I heard the songs of a Northern Waterthrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Black-and-white Warbler. There were Wood Ducks on the pond and a Belted Kingfisher rattled through a couple of times.

Seeee zree chidli chidli chi-chi-chi teew!

Wild Geranium

Gray Catbird

The surprise of my evening outing was finding a Great Horned Owl. Actually, an American Crow found it first and alerted me to the possibility of a nearby hawk or owl by its antagonistic cawing. However, the crow's heart must not have been in it; the corvid flew off after only several seconds of harassment. The owl was now alert with its eyes glowing toward me in the golden evening light.

Great Horned Owl

Meanwhile, the warbler parade at the creek corridor is underway. On Saturday morning my group of birders found 16 warbler species including Golden-winged, Blue-winged, American Redstart, Ovenbird, and a single Tennessee Warbler. While species diversity has increased, the number of individuals is still somewhat unimpressive. When are they coming? This week should be revealing. Will spring migration 2016 be a bit of a dud, or have the masses of neotropical songbirds been waiting to come north from forests to our south? Either way, the tree canopy is quickly filling in with leaves ― it's going to be tough seeing birds let alone get photographs of them.

We will have to bird by ear!

Dottie Johnson and Sylvia Marek

Yellow Warbler

Wood Poppy

Mushroom sp.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
May 7, 2016 6:15 AM - 10:45 AM
70 species

Wood Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Cooper's Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Waterthrush
Golden-winged Warbler
Blue-winged Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Northern Parula
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
Purple Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2016 Mike McDowell

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